I’m supposed to be writing the next novel, but sometimes, you just have to give in to fate when a story lands in your lap.
During the morning writing hours, I mute my phone, so I didn’t hear the notifications indicating that someone was knocking on my door, circling the yard to find signs of activity.
This is not an uncommon occurrence. For whatever reason, apparently, I have an approachable house, so in times of need, people usually seem to find their way to my door when someone’s car breaks down on our rural road.
I’m so glad I left the office to connect with my visitor. (Sorry for the necessity – the early model car that broke down on a blind hill just down from my house. All is well now, but it’s a dangerous road.)
I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Gabriele Rausse, whom some call “the father of Virginia viticulture”.
For about thirty minutes while waiting for a tow truck, I had the privilege of listening to his stories of the difficulty in bringing European vines into Virginia, the obstacles involved in building a working relationship with others who may not share your vision or who lack belief in your methods, the joy of owning his own vineyard shared with his adult children, and the passion necessary to devote your life to a single endeavor.
He was hired from Italy, to work at Barboursville Vineyard, back in 1976, and since, Virginia has become the wine capital of the east coast. (That’s my proclamation based on the observation that they seem to have popped up exponentially over the years.)
To date, Mr. Rausse has helped to start more than fifty vineyards in Virginia and abroad. He now has his own family-owned and operated vineyard nestled in the heart of Albemarle County wine country, Gabriele Rausse Winery.
Mr. Rausse, who, in addition to working his own land, is the Director of Viticulture and Farming at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, although, with his lovely Italian accent and gift for storytelling, he only claims the title of “show pony.” If you’ve never been to Monticello, it is well worth the trip! The home and the gardens are everything I’m sure Mr. Jefferson could have envisioned, (which is saying something for someone considered to be a visionary.) I’m sure he could not have found a better steward of — or fellow visionary for — his vineyard.
To Mr. Rause: It was a pleasure meeting you, Sir, and I thank you tremendously for sharing your stories… and adding to the cache of good storytellers in my life.